The term world Christianity has been widely used since the publication of Philip Jenkins’s 2002 best seller The Next Christendom, but in popular usage it has tended to refer only to Christianity in the Global South. Though courses on world Christianity have proliferated, no one until Douglas Jacobsen has taken the care to delineate the contours of the entire global movement.
This book inaugurates a new series, Oxford Studies in World Christianity, to be edited by Lamin O. Sanneh. The “pillars” of Sanneh’s subtitle not only provide the themes for this book but also anticipate works of greater depth and specificity to come later in the series.
Robert W. Jenson recently retired as senior scholar at the Center for Theological Inquiry in Princeton. He and longtime colleague Carl Braaten founded the journals Dialog and Pro Ecclesia and the Center for Catholic and Evangelical Theology. He has taught at Luther College, Lutheran Theological Seminary at Gettysburg, Oxford University and St. Olaf College.
As the message of Pentecost spread, it adapted to fit existing cultures. Korean Pentecostals, for instance, frequently climb “prayer mountains” for pre-sunrise prayer services, a reflection of a pre-Christian past.
By 2050 Latinos and Latinas will constitute at least one fourth of the U.S. population. They are increasingly part of Protestant as well as Roman Catholic churches, though they often live in this country without legal status.
Christians throughout history may be justly accused of many failures, but it appears neglecting evangelism is not one of them. Observers of Christian growth have been suggesting over the last few decades that the faith is experiencing a significant migratory moment, not unlike the first explosive venture outside the tribe of the Jews into the unfamiliar world of the gentiles.